With all that loss you're saying you only put about 3 gallons of wort into the primary?
I am putting about 4 gallons of good wort into the carboy, then about 1.25 gallons of cloudy trub-filled wort to reach my volume.
The first question I have is about your volumes- I assume that since you have an 8 gallon pot, you're starting with 7 gallons? When I had a 7 gallon pot, I started with 6.25 gallons and watched it like a hawk!
That is exactly what I do. Then as the boil progresses I can tell approximately how much I have lost to the boil off and I occasionally add up to a gallon more into the pot during the boil.
How much trub do you end up with in the bottom of the fermenter after fermentation?
After fermentation the trub/yeast sit in about a 1" deep compacted layer at the bottom of the carboy.
2 gallons of trub?? You mean you leave 2 gallons in the boil kettle?? Trub is in the fermenter and 2 inches is not uncommon. Break material is the solids that form in the boil. I usually filter them out if I can, when I siphon into the fermenter.
Can you describe your normal process in more detail? There is some amount of "loss" in brewing, but honestly, it's to be expected and factored into the recipe to yield about 5 gallons of finished beer.
I end up leaving ~1.5 gallons in the kettle. It breaks my heart every time.
As far as my process goes on this last one:
-I do a partial mash using 3.25 lbs of grains in a 2 gallon Rubbermaid cooler.
-Mash in with 4.25 qts of 162 degree water for mash temp of 154.
-After 60 minutes I batch sparge with 4 qts 170 water for 10 minutes
-I did a second batch sparge with 4 qts 170 degree water
-Now I have about 2.75 gallons of wort in the kettle so I top off up to 7 gallons and add 1 lb DME to start the boil.
-I boil on a turkey fryer. I set it as high as it will go to get the boil started then turn it down to a vigorous rolling boil through the remainder of the boil (Maybe I should go for more of a gentle boil?)
-At 30 minutes I begin slowly adding the remaining 3 lbs of DME. And I mean SLOWLY. It takes about 20 minutes to add it all, pouring a bit at a time as the boil continues.
-Also at about 30 minutes I notice my level has dropped significantly so I add another gallon of water to keep the level up.
-I do my hop additions on schedule at 60/15/5, one ounce of various hops each time according to the schedule. I use pellet hops and toss them right in without a hop bag. (I'm sure that contributes to the amount of junk at the bottom of the kettle.)
-At 15 minutes I add the chiller, Whirlfloc, and a yeast nutrient pill
-Flameout at 60 minutes, I start pumping water through the chiller. My tap water is at 60 degrees and it takes me about 25 minutes to get the wort down to 70 degrees.
-Once chilled I lift the pot up to a counter and use the ball valve on the kettle w/ a 3/8 hose attached to transfer to the carboy.
-With about 3 gallons in the carboy the cloudy wort starts to appear. By the time the wort reaches the level with my ball valve I am getting extremely cloudy wort. I still only have about 4.25-4.5 gallons in the carboy at this point so I tilt the kettle to get enough wort to reach just over 5 gallons. This process brings a lot of junk with it.
-I pitch the whole starter, about 1 qt
-I watch all the break material in my carboy dance around as it settles into a 2" thick layer at the bottom of the carboy